Judas and the Black Messiah Review The Buff and The Blazer
Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah is one of the most powerful stories of the year. Without a doubt, its release is a timely one. The film speaks to key issues we face even 60 plus years later. One of the main drivers behind the film’s impact and success is its stellar cast. From top to bottom, the cast delivers memorable and inspired performances. Among the many stand-out performances, Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield, and Dominique Fishback lead a stacked cast and prove there is power in performance.
It’s no secret that Daniel Kaluuya and a riveting performance go hand-in-hand. He burst onto the scene after his performance in 2017’s Get Out. Now, he is receiving all sorts of praise for his portrayal of Fred Hampton, including an Oscar nod for best supporting actor. Kaluuya’s performance as Fred Hampton is nothing short of spectacular. He gives the kind of performance that demands the room, which is highly effective for the role. He also has a massive presence in all of his scenes. On the flip side, the actor also pulls off a subtle, humble charm in the film’s quieter moments. In those scenes, you understand the depth of Fred Hampton’s convictions and his dedication to the cause.
Dominique Fishback as Deborah Johnson is a key performance in Judas and the Black Messiah. Fishback delivers on portraying the struggles and challenges of Johnson’s relationship with Fred Hampton. She also gives the film its heart as some of the most beautiful moments come during the quiet exchanges between her and Daniel Kaluuya. In addition, Fishback also delivers a performance that goes toe-to-toe with Kaluuya’s, and she never gets overshadowed. Her performance as Deborah Johnson is just as powerful, and as a character, she is even more level-headed.
LaKeith Stanfield is another heavy hitter in the acting world. He has a massive filmography with all sorts of range. Like Daniel Kaluuya, he is also recognized for his role in Judas and the Black Messiah and has received a best supporting actor nod for the Oscars. His performance in the film is highly multi-layered. As Bill O’Neal, he had to convey the conviction of a member of the Black Panther Party while also pulling off an FBI informant’s role. That in combination with dealing with the haunting guilt of betrayal, Stanfield is an absolute powerhouse.
Ultimately, Judas and the Black Messiah is one of the best films of the year, as exemplified by the power of its performances.
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